Review: Porsche 718 Cayman (2016)

Rating:

Brilliant to drive. Feels more special than mainstream alternatives.

Four-cylinder engines won't appeal to everyone. Not as practical or as modern inside as rivals.

Porsche 718 Cayman (2016): At A Glance

The Porsche Cayman is now the firm's entry-level model (a rearrange of the line-up in 2016 saw it swap places with the Boxster), but you'd be wrong to think it's nothing more than a cut-price 911. It is, in fact, a fantastic little two-seater sports car, that feels more special than rivals like the Audi TT and BMW 2 Series.

There are some 'buts', of course. For the 718 Cayman, Porsche dropped the fantastic naturally-aspirated flat-six engines in favour of turbocharged four-pots in 2.0 and 2.5-litre guises. With it came improved efficiency, but enthusiasts might find the hot-hatch-like soundtrack irritating - especially if they've previously owned the old 981 model.

No matter what your thoughts on the engine (we don't find it as offensive as some), the Cayman remains one of the most agile sports cars on the market. It boasts a 'comprehensively retuned chassis', says Porsche, comprising of stiffer anti-roll bars, fettled dampers and a steering rack that's ten per cent more direct.

And if you're a serious driver, you'll love the Cayman. Its electrically-assisted steering is heavy enough to make you realise that you're driving a proper sports car, and as you approach the limit it's communicative enough to allow you to push further. There's plenty of traction, thanks to its mid-engined layout, but there's enough power to get the rear end of the 718 moving around should you fancy splashing out on a track day.

When the latest Cayman arrived in 2016, its interior wasn't that different from its predecessor - which had been on sale since 2013 and itself didn't represent a dramatic change from the original 2005 Cayman. As such, the cabin does feel a little dated compared to more contemporary rivals. It feels very well made, though, with lots of soft-touch materials and a superb driving position.

Indeed, you get the feeling that the cabin's been made with the pure intention of driving enjoyment. It's not as hardcore as rivals like the Alpine A110 (you certainly wouldn't despise it by the end of a long journey), but everything is centred around the driver, with a high centre console, low seating position and relatively small infotainment screen positioned in the centre of the dash.

It's not the most practical choice. Unlike the Audi TT, there are just the two seats, and you'll struggle for stowage compartments around the cabin. There is a useful 425-litres of boot space, but this is divided between two small (awkwardly positioned) compartments located in the front and rear of the car. They're fine for soft weekend bags, but don't expect the Cayman to cope with a trip to Ikea.

The Cayman has its flaws. But it's also the most fun you can have on the right side of £50,000. It'll put a smile on your face, thanks to its feel-good interior, engaging drive and head-turning looks. Rivals like the Audi TT and BMW 2 Series might be objectively better in many ways, but they don't offer the same sports car experience as the Cayman.

What does a Porsche 718 Cayman (2016) cost?

Contract hire from £589.69 per month

Porsche 718 Cayman (2016): What's It Like Inside?

Dimensions
Length 4379–4393 mm
Width 1994 mm
Height 1286–1295 mm
Wheelbase 2475 mm

Full specifications

Porsche isn't overly generous with its standard equipment levels, so you'll have to spend more for things like electric seat adjustment (£1599 on the basic Cayman), adaptive cruise control (£1094) and parking sensors (£623 for front and rear). Heated seats are £294, automatic climate control is £539 and ISOFIX child seat mounting points are £126.

What you do get as standard is a cosy and classy interior, with lots of soft-touch materials. The driving position is excellent - nice and low down, ideal for a sports car, without compromising in terms of visibility. You get a pretty good view of the road ahead and the Cayman's an easy enough car for driving around town.

Practicality isn't the Cayman's strong point. You don't get much in terms of stowage space inside the car, with slim door pockets and a shallow storage compartment under the centre armrest. It's comfortable, though, with plenty of support in the seats for long journeys.

On paper, there's a decent amount of boot space, with luggage capacity quoted at 425 litres. This is split between two compartments in the front and rear of the car. They're fine for carrying soft bags for a weekend away or a few shopping bags, but you're not going to get a set of golf clubs in there. There aren't any rear seats so you've got no chance of carrying more than two people, and there's no space behind the seats inside.

There's a seven-inch touchscreen media display in the centre of the dash, which is easy enough to operate with clear graphics and fast responses. Apple CarPlay is standard too, although there's no Android Auto. It does look a little dated compared to some of the slick infotainment systems offered on rivals like the Audi TT, and the long line of buttons on the centre console (or not, if you've been tight with the options list) also looks a little old school.

It's worth paying extra for a premium sound system, in our opinion - the Bose surround sound system (£834) is much better than the standard radio, while the £2769 Burmester unit will appeal to audiophiles.

Child seats that fit a Porsche 718 Cayman (2016)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Porsche 718 Cayman (2016) like to drive?

The entry-level Porsche Cayman uses a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine producing 300PS, while the Cayman S uses a 2.5-litre with 350PS. There's also the GTS, which uses the same 2.5 with power boosted to 365PS.

Enthusiasts are still angry at Porsche for dropping the old six-cylinder petrol engines, but the ongoing drive for fuel economy and reduced emissions put an end to those (although there is also the six-cylinder GT4 if the four-pot irritates you that much...). While the entry-level 2.0-litre might sound weedy, 300PS means it's got more than enough power for most drivers, while its claimed fuel economy of up to 33.2mpg isn't bad for a car of this type.

Sitting between the standard Cayman and the Cayman S is the Cayman T. This uses the 2.0-litre engine and doesn't boast an increase in power, but it does feature a shortened gear shift (unless you opt for the PDK auto... we'll come onto that), a 20mm lower ride height and the Sport Chrono package including a variety of drive modes.

No matter whether you opt for the 2.0- or 2.5-litre Cayman, it's very eager to accelerate at any revs. Maximum torque is available from around 2000 to 4500rpm, but there aren't any noticeable flatspots - even approaching the redline. Whether you're shuffling about in traffic or out for a spirited drive, the Cayman is both easy yet rewarding to drive.

The Porsche Cayman comes as standard with a six-speed manual gearbox, which is a delight to use. It has a short throw (particularly on the Cayman T model) and offers precise changes, although most buyers will be better catered for with the PDK automatic transmission.

Yes, buying a Porsche sports car with an automatic gearbox might raise eyebrows, but it's one of the best dual-clutch transmissions on the market. Changes are near-instantaneous and you can always take control with the paddles behind the steering wheel should you feel the need.

No matter which engine and gearbox you go for, the Cayman's handling is nothing short of sublime. Even the ride is pretty compliant, with the optional adaptive dampers (dubbed Porsche Active Suspension Management or PASM) in particular doing a very good job of smoothing out bumps. We're not talking SUV levels of softness, but the Cayman isn't as uncomfortable over speed bumps as you might expect.

In corners, there's no noticeable lean, while the front of the car is eager to turn in no matter how many liberties you're taking. There's a huge amount of grip on offer, while the steering is wonderfully direct and communicative. Whatever the situation, you'll enjoy driving the Cayman.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
Cayman 38 mpg 5.1 s 168 g/km
Cayman GTS 31 mpg 4.6 s 205 g/km
Cayman GTS PDK 33 mpg 4.3 s 186 g/km
Cayman PDK 36–41 mpg 4.9 s 158 g/km
Cayman S 35 mpg 4.6 s 184 g/km
Cayman S PDK 39 mpg 4.4 s 167 g/km
Cayman T - - 186 g/km
Cayman T PDK - - 180 g/km

Real MPG average for a Porsche 718 Cayman (2016)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance

89%

Real MPG

23–40 mpg

MPGs submitted

11

Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Porsche 718 Cayman (2016)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

What sporty, 5-door, reliable cars could you recommend?

Our 12 year old Audi A3 2.0 TDI Sportback has done 100,000 miles, so will be going, and we need a third car to back up our Ford S-Max 2.0 Ecoboost and Porsche Cayman GTS. The front runner is a Mazda 3 2.0 165 Sport, which you report very favourably on. It will be for general/family use (we have 3 kids: aged six, eight and ten) and Drivethedeal can supply one for under £20,000. Are there any other suggestions that should be considered for a sporty, five-door, good to drive, reliable car? We wouldn't touch VWG at the moment and a Ford Fiesta ST would be nearly perfect except it may be a bit small. Secondly, if we go for the Mazda, I cannot find any mention on the Michelin site that they do 18-inch cross-climates (which the Mazda rides on).
You can get Cross Climates in 205/60 R16, which is the other size on the Mazda 3, but the Michelin site becomes very frustrating looking for 18-inch whether you just look for tyre size or try to input the actual car. You're obviously looking for a bit of power, but we had huge fun in the low power Mazda 3, though admittedly in Northern Scotland on almost empty roads: http://www.honestjohn.co.uk/road-tests/mazda/mazda-3-2017-road-test/?
Answered by Honest John
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